Qatar promised air-conditioned stadiums to ensure its extreme heat does not stand on the way of it hosting the World Cup in 2022, but as it stands, FIFA may find a new host.
This was revealed by a top FIFA official who said the oil-rich nation will not host the World Cup in 2022 because of scorching temperatures.
“I think that at the end of the day the 2022 World Cup will not take place in Qatar,” Theo Zwanziger, a German member of FIFA, said in an interview with Sport Bild Plus.
The former head of the German football federation (DFB) cited high summer temperatures as the reason Qatar would lose the right to host football’s global showpiece.
“As Mr Zwanziger himself says, it’s his personal opinion,” a FIFA spokesman responded to AFP subsidiary SID when asked about the German’s statement.
“Doctors say, and I had insisted on this point in the protocol, that they cannot guarantee that a World Cup can be held in summer in these conditions,” Zwanziger said.
While Qatar has reportedly developed stadium cooling systems, Mr Zwanziger said “the World Cup involves not only stadiums. There are fans coming from the four corners of the world who will be concerned by the heat”.
“The first incident putting a life in danger will be subject to an investigation. And that, nobody in the FIFA Executive Committee would want to reply to.”
But in an interview with Die Welt newspaper, Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general of the Qatar 2022 organising committee, declared himself “sure that the 2022 World Cup would take place in Qatar”.
“No, I’m not worried. Firstly because there’s no basis to lose the World Cup,” he said.
“And secondly because it’s the first World Cup in the Middle East.
“When people think of this region, it’s rather in terms of conflict. The World Cup will be an occasion to unite peoples. It will leave a positive heritage.”
Controversy has plagued FIFA’s awarding of the World Cup to Qatar in 2010, with summer temperatures in the Gulf emirate reaching the upper-40s Celsius.
The idea of switching the World Cup to cooler winter months does not sit comfortably with all officials of Europe’s big leagues.
Gas-rich Qatar has also come under the spotlight over foreign workers’ rights as well as accusations that corruption played a part in winning the right to host the World Cup.
Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper has alleged that former Qatari football boss Mohamed Bin Hammam paid more than $5 million to gain support for the emirate ahead of the vote.
Qatar has strongly denied the allegations.